Illan Meslier has defied his critics to establish himself as one of Europe’s hottest young prospects and the Leeds United goalkeeper is now raking in the plaudits.
The 21-year-old arrived at Thorp Arch on a season-long loan deal from Lorient in August 2019 and had to bide his time in the U23s side before securing the No.1 jersey towards the end of our title-winning Championship campaign and earning himself a permanent stay.
He had a mixed start to the season, as would be expected with a young goalkeeper in his maiden Premier League campaign, but he has really come on leaps and bounds in recent months.
His efforts are now gaining traction in the media and he has been inducted into The Telegraph’s ‘Project 2000’ list, a ‘definitive’ ranking of Europe’s 30 best young players born after January 1 2000.
Meslier placed 29th on the list but he was the only goalkeeper included with the Telegraph noting how ‘rare’ it is to see such a youthful goalkeeper thriving in the Premier League.
They concluded that “a bright future awaits”.
Leeds-born Erling Haaland topped this list with Borussia Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho in second while Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) and Phil Foden (Manchester City) were other notable elite-level talents included.
It highlights the monumental development in Meslier.
He was a relative unknown to most outside of Leeds quarters this time last year but he grabbed his spot towards the end of the promotion-winning campaign and has not looked back since.
Kiko Casilla is now a mere afterthought and it shows the excellent work undertaken by Victor Orta and Marcelo Bielsa.
Credit has to first go to Orta for recognising his talent and bringing him to the club.
But special mention to Bielsa for his unstinting loyalty and belief that he is good enough to be a Premier League player at his tender age in spite of doubts surrounding him.
Leeds are now reaping the rewards of this and his most recent display versus Fulham was arguably his best performance of the season to boost our top-10 hopes.
He’s just going from strength to strength and if he keeps it up it won’t be long until he’s facing up with the likes of Haaland and Sancho in European competition.
In other Leeds United news, Whites eye up move for ex-Real Madrid striker.